Wild River Review, Judith Zinis, October 2015 — Miguel Coyula, a one-man cinema “band,” writes, films, edits, and does post-production on all his films. Although his work has won awards and been well received in the United States, Europe, and South America, none of his films have been released in Cuba. During several evenings in Havana, we explored his approach to filmmaking and his views on the difficulties of being an artist in both Cuba and the United States.
Mr. Coyula studied film at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión of San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba (EICTV) and has spent extensive periods in the United States as the recipient of a Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute Scholarship, on a Guggenheim grant, and as a lecturer at various universities. As one fan commented on his first feature film, Red Cockroaches, “this film should be shown to every beginning filmmaker.” Made for $2,000.00 and described as a merging of surrealism and science fiction, Red Cockroaches, with its high production values, seems more like a big budget studio film than low-budget independent cinema. Variety described it as “a triumph of technology in the hands of a visionary with know-how….” As Castro once did, Coyula operates outside the system, financing his films through grants and investors who as he put it, “are doing it for the love of art. “
His second feature-length film, Memories of Underdevelopment is based on Edmundo Desnoes’ novel of the same name. Desnoes’ first novel resulted in the iconic 1968 Cuban film Memories of Underdevelopment, adapted by the revered director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. Both the novel and the films trace a character’s unsuccessful attempt to adjust to two differing economic and cultural spheres, the early days of socialism in Cuba, and life in capitalist America. Well received by Cuban critics, presently, the film has no distributer. Like the character in the two Memories films, Mr. Coyula is caught in the middle, a cinema no man’s land. Undeterred, he is presently developing Corazon Azul, a science fiction film.